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Prom After Party

Prom has traditionally been an evening where the party continues long after the music stops. In the not-so-distant past, prom-goers found ways to celebrate until sunrise. Unfortunately, much of what they did during those pre-dawn hours was dangerous, even deadly. In an effort to reduce reckless behavior, including drinking and driving, schools and communities banded together to give kids a safe, chaperoned alternative. Today, school- and parent-sponsored post-prom parties are the norm. Teens can celebrate into the early morning without many of the worries and dangers that previously existed. The parties are great for parents, too. They enjoy peace of mind knowing their kids are in a healthy, supervised environment.

As wonderful as these after-parties can be, they apparently aren't enough for some teens. An increasingly popular addition to the post-prom festivities is the coed sleepover. The logic behind these slumber parties eludes us. What purpose is there in having teenage guys and gals falling asleep together? Is it an effort to extend a long night of fun even further? The reasoning may be hard to understand, but the risks are not. Sleeping is a very vulnerable state. Why would parents want to create circumstances in which kids could be so easily taken advantage of? The dangers of sexual pranks, experimentation, and even abuse at these sleepovers exist regardless of how innocent teens claim them to be or how much supervision parents claim to provide. Kids and parents have enough worries on prom night without creating situations that invite trouble and confusion.

If your daughter tells you "everyone" is going somewhere after the dance and that it's okay with all the other kids' parents, pick up the phone and start asking around. Find out if they're really okay with the idea. What you're likely to hear from some parents is that they're going along with it because they don't want to be the only parents to say "No." Peer pressure can influence moms and dads just as much as their kids. If an idea like a coed sleepover makes you uneasy, you're probably not alone. Share your concerns with others, and say "No" together, or offer an alternative that's acceptable to everyone.

When it comes to prom, schools are getting much better at managing behaviors and toning down some of the more outrageousness ones. Many have rules dealing with everything from appropriate dress to acceptable styles of dance. Find out what your school administrators are doing to ensure that prom continues to serve its original purpose. Their efforts can make a parent's job easier. Use the school's regulations as rationales for the decisions and limits you make about clothes, curfew, or the after-party. And if your daughter throws tantrums or makes demands that will blow prom way out of proportion and shows she can't have a reasonable response or accept "No" for an answer in a conversation about going to prom, then she probably doesn't have the skills or the maturity to be anyone's prom date.

Be sure to check out There Are No Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter from the Boys Town Press.